Network Security Key Mismatch: What It Is & How To Fix

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Every router varies, but all have some sort of network security key mismatch error message. It’s relatively simple to understand – your router is looking for a certain string of characters as the password, and it’s receiving something other than that, thus prompting an error.

Network Security Key Mismatch error message

Fixing the network security key mismatch error is relatively simple. We’ve listed the fixes below, rated easiest to most complicated. Start with #1, and move down the list until your problem is solved.

If you’re freaking out and need to connect to the network right this instant, you can always connect to your router directly with an Ethernet cable, bypassing the need for a security key.

Fix #1 – making sure that you’re entering the password correctly

Your router is looking for an exact password – not one that’s “close enough”. Make sure that you check for the following missteps…

  • You forgot to capitalize a letter – WiFi passwords are CaSe SenSiTiVe
  • You typed “O” instead of “0” – if you have your key written down somewhere, make sure that you’re reading it correctly

If you’re positive that you’re entering the key correctly, try restarting your router. It can’t hurt, and it often fixes the problem.

Okay, still not working? Proceed to fix #2.

Fix #2 – make sure your version of WiFi is supported

Some routers will throw up the network security key mismatch message, even if the key is correct. They do this because the router isn’t currently accepting signals from your type of WiFi, and because of that, it can’t receive the signal from your device that contains the key.

There are different types of WiFi – 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11N and so on. The specifics of each type aren’t relevant to solving the problem; you just need to know that if you’re using the wrong type of WiFi, then you won’t connect.

To change the types of WiFi that your router supports, log into the router and look around for that setting. Each router has a different control panel, so we can’t tell you exactly where it will be located, but it’s usually relatively easy to find. If you can’t find the option, try calling the support hotline for the company that makes your router, such as Linksys or Netgear.

Fix #3 – reset your router, create a new key, delete the network, reboot computer and try again

If just resetting the router in fix #1 didn’t work, you’re going to have to reset the entire system.

  1. Log into your router and reset it from the dashboard – just clicking the reset button on the hardware will reset the router itself, but not the overall network
  2. Create a new network name, and a new network security key when prompted – make sure you write this one down legibly!
  3. Go to your computer and delete the network temporarily – on Windows machines, you can find your networks in the Network and Sharing Center
  4. Restart your computer
  5. Connect to your network, and this time, use the new security key. (If the network doesn’t pop up, try to manually connect to it by typing out the name. It may be hidden because you deleted it before.)

If you can connect to the router with a cable but are still struggling to fix the network security key mismatch error after trying the fixes above, then there may be something wrong with the router itself. Make sure to take note of any blinking error lights, and if all else fails, call the support hotline and sit through the wait until someone can help you with it.

Good luck!

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